According to The Athletic, Timo Werner is waiting on Liverpool and the Reds have until April to secure a £51m summer swoop. Werner has been flirting with Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool for some time now and The Athletic’s James Pearce has even admitted he’d be ‘surprised‘ if the deal doesn’t happen.
Roberto Firmino meanwhile is yet to score at Anfield this season, and his latest blunder in front of goal prompted some Reds fans to finally lose patience, calling directly for Werner to replace the Brazil star after he missed a sitter in the closing stages against Bournemouth. With that in mind, could the Red Bull Leipzig speedster actually displace Liverpool’s mercurial number nine?
1. He’s got the moves like Salah… Werner is a lethal goalscorer, racking up 21 strikes in the Bundesliga already this term as well as four in the Champions League, but it’s no surprise when you look deeper into his stats. The 23 year-old averages a whopping 3.8 shots per game in the league, matching Mohamed Salah’s 3.8 shots per league match. Given that Salah is well known for his high output in front of goal, sometimes even criticised as ‘selfish’, it seems there may be a new king in town when it comes to piling the pressure on the opposition’s goal. Comparatively, Firmino takes just three shots per game and only has eight league goals.
2. A new false nine… Averaging 0.79 expected goals per 90 minutes, it’s clear Werner’s biggest selling point is his goalscoring, but after adapting to what he himself called a ‘false nine’ role under Julian Nagelsmann, claiming he now understands how to ‘make better use of space’, he has become an excellent creator for his team as well – remind you of anyone? Indeed, Werner’s average of 1.4 key passes per game in the top-flight is actually higher than Roberto Firmino’s Premier League average of 1.3, while his expected assists per 90 minutes (0.31) is also higher than the Brazilian’s (0.23).
3. Leading from the front… By this point, everyone knows that Firmino’s importance to Liverpool cannot simply be measured in goals, assists and key passes. He triggers the press, he drops into space to create areas for Salah and Sadio Mane to run into and he covers an incredible amount of ground. Well, Werner isn’t doing too badly in those departments either, making slightly less tackles per game (0.6) than Firmino (1) but the same amount of interceptions (0.2). Comparing their impact on the pitch, Firmino’s heat map against Bournemouth (orange) is incredibly similar to Werner’s in a recent 5-0 win at Schalke (blue), in which he scored and assisted a goal.
Boasting an incredible output in front of goal, learning the ‘false nine’ role with aplomb and showing an ability to provide for his teammates and serve as a creator, Werner appears to be the perfect summer signing for Klopp and Liverpool. It is of course possible that the Reds boss could switch to 4-2-3-1 (a system he used regularly at Borussia Dortmund) and deploy Werner in front of the current front three, but the stats suggest that if Pearce’s prediction is right and the deal goes through, Firmino’s place in the first XI could well be in jeopardy.
Would Timo Werner start over Roberto Firmino at Liverpool?
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